The Year in USO Entertainment

It was a huge year in entertainment for the USO. Here’s a look at some of the biggest celebrity experiences and shows we facilitated for troops and their families in 2014. They’re great examples of how — with your help — we make USO moments happen around the world for thousands of troops every day.

Hunter Hayes Creates Unforgettable Moments for a Military Family

Country star Hunter Hayes performed four USO shows in 2014, including late October and early November shows in New York City and Nashville, respectively, that helped the USO celebrate the anniversary of the Every Moment Counts campaign. Watch the video to see how Hayes created special moments for one Army family in particular during those shows.

Al Roker Entertains Troops and Sets a Guinness World Record

NBC's Al Roker headlined the "Today"/USO Comedy Tour in Afghanistan in October. USO photo by Fred Greaves

NBC’s Al Roker headlined the “Today”/USO Comedy Tour in Afghanistan in October. USO photo by Fred Greaves

Meanwhile, NBC’s Al Roker made it his personal mission to entertain the troops and raise funds for the USO. He went on a USO tour to Afghanistan in early October with TV stars Jay Leno, Kevin Eubanks, Iliza Shlesinger and Craig Robinson.

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While that was a huge commitment, Roker topped himself by pulling off the #Rokerthon, a 34-hour Guinness World Record-setting weather forecast that was broadcast between Nov. 12-14 that benefitted the USO. Roker asked #Rokerthon viewers to visit the Crowdrise page he started to raise money for the USO during the broadcast.

The USO/Chairman’s Holiday Tour

Actor/comedian Rob Riggle, actress Megan Markle, country music star Kellie Pickler, actress Dianna Agron, eight-time Pro Bowler Brian Urlacher and Washington Nationals pitcher Doug Fister went on this December's USO Chairman's Holiday Tour. USO photo by Dave Gatley

From left: Actor/comedian Rob Riggle, actress Megan Markle, country music star Kellie Pickler, actress Dianna Agron, eight-time Pro Bowler Brian Urlacher and Washington Nationals pitcher Doug Fister went on this December’s USO Chairman’s Holiday Tour. USO photo by Dave Gatley

It’s not the holidays if the chairman isn’t on a USO tour. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey went on his fourth and final tour in December, bringing along country star and USO tour vet Kellie Pickler, USO tour vet and comedian Rob Riggle, “Glee” co-star Dianna Agron, “Suits” co-star Meghan Markle, former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher and Washington Nationals pitcher Doug Fister.

Kellie Pickler and Aisha Tyler at the USO Gala

Speaking of Pickler, she and Aisha Tyler brought a sparkle to the USO Gala on Oct. 17 in Washington. See what they each had to say about why they support America’s troops.

Troops Hit the Red Carpet at “Unbroken” Premiere

Universal Pictures teamed with the USO on “Unbroken,” a World War II story of heroism that is poised to be one of the biggest movies of the Christmas season. See how troops were treated to a red-carpet experience at the premiere of the Angelina Jolie-directed film.

Trace Adkins and Casey James Rock Fort Hood

Longtime USO supporter Trace Adkins performed a special concert for troops on Fort Hood the first weekend in November, bringing up-and-comer Casey James with him.

Idina Menzel Meets Military Families

Broadway Star Idina Menzel — who became even more famous after her smash hit “Let It Go” from the movie “Frozen — joined the USO for a meet and greet with military families in November.

Sesame Street/USO Experience Entertains 500,000th Guest

The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families entertained it’s 500,000th guest this year. The long-running USO entertainment tour has touched thousands of military families, including the the Curtises. Take a look.

Rock for Troops

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers KISS talked to the USO about why they’re raising awareness about veteran unemployment and why they donated some of the proceeds from their recent tour to the USO.

Pitbull Entertains Military Families on July 4 at the White House

Mr. Worldwide put on a USO show on the South Lawn of the White House for troops and families this past July 4.

The Band Perry Plays for Troops in Norfolk

The Band Perry sat down with the USO before its USO Virginia Beach Patriotic Festival show to talk about entertaining troops and their families.

Trio of NFL Players Visit Troops Downrange

Pierre Garçon goofs around with a service member on his March 2014 USO Tour. USO photo by Dave Gatley

Pierre Garçon goofs around with a service member on his March 2014 USO Tour. USO photo by Dave Gatley

Washington Redskins receiver Pierre Garçon, New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham and Miami Dolphins punter Brandon Fields visited more than 1,800 troops in Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates during a USO/NFL Tour in early March. Read what Garçon had to say about the trip.

Brantley Gilbert Puts on a Show at the Coca-Cola 600

USO tour veteran Brantley Gilbert played a free concert for NASCAR fans and military members before the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where the USO played a big role. Find out what he had to say backstage on Memorial Day Weekend to troops still serving in harms way.

Sneak Peek of “How To Train Your Dragon 2″

The crew from “How To Train Your Dragon 2″ stopped by for a special USO screening  at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst earlier this year.

Bruce Willis’ Holiday Message to the Troops

And finally, actor Bruce Willis took a moment to thank America’s troops for the holidays.

Trace Adkins and Casey James Thank Troops Before Performing at Fort Hood

Before hitting the stage to perform for military families at a free concert at Fort Hood, Texas, this weekend, nine-time USO veteran Trace Adkins took a moment to thank troops around the world for their service.

Country music newcomer Casey James, who opened the concert for Adkins, also gave a quick shout out to troops before the show began.

The concert, sponsored by the USO, Fort Hood MWR and Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed), featured nearly three hours of music at Fort Hood Stadium.

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‘I’ve Got Their Back’: Trace Adkins Gears Up to Perform a USO Show at Fort Hood

Multi-platinum country music recording artist, Trace Adkins. Photo courtesy Trace Adkins

Multi-platinum country music recording artist Trace Adkins. Courtesy photo

When Trace Adkins steps off stage after performing in Fort Hood, Texas, this Saturday, he knows he will feel the guilt. It’s a guilt the eight-time USO tour veteran says he feels after every USO show.

“You’ll never find a more appreciative audience than the members of the military,” Adkins said. “Every USO tour I’ve been on, I leave there feeling a little guilty every time. I always feel like they gave me more than I gave them. And it’s always felt like that.”

The multi-platinum country artist, who previously performed at Fort Hood during the 2010 WWE and NBC ‘Tribute to the Troops,’ says there’s something special about entertaining troops and their families that he’s looking forward to experiencing again at Saturday’s show, sponsored by PenFed Credit Union.

“[The band] just play[s] and we’ll dance and sing and laugh and clap and all have a good time, you know?” Adkins said. “And just, for a few minutes [the troops] get to just be at a concert. And not have to worry too much about the day gig.”

In addition to providing troops with an escape, Adkins, who’s entertained over 39,700 military family members on USO tours since 2002, hopes that his concerts give military members, especially those deployed overseas, a much-needed taste of home.

“Hopefully we’ll do something, we’ll do a hit that they were listening to on the radio when they were riding around in the truck in their hometown,” Adkins said. “And those kind of things trigger memories for people and make them feel just a little closer to home. You know? That’s what we hope to be able to bring them.”

Most importantly, Adkins, who’s smash hits include “You’re Gonna Miss This” and “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” says that he hopes troops who attend Saturday’s show will leave with their morale boosted and smiles on their faces.

“I just want them to know that I support them 100 percent. That I’ve got their back,” Adkins said. “They’ve always had mine.”

Trace Adkins to Perform Welcome Home Concert at Fort Benning

In 2008 Trace Adkins returned to the Persian Gulf to entertain the troops with a USO/Armed Forces Entertainment Tour. (USO Photo by Dave Gatley)

If you’re in the Fort Benning area, be sure to catch  country music star Trace Adkins on Friday., November 5, for a FREE USO concert!

The concert starts at 7:00 p.m., and will help welcome home more than 4,500 soldiers of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division who just completed a year-long deployment in Iraq.  It’s open open to all military ID holders and will take place at Wetherby Field.

A long time supporter of the U.S. military, Adkins has traveled on two USO tours since 2002 and performed for more than 7,800 troops stationed in Bahrain, Iraq and Afghanistan.  He also makes regular visits to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and National Naval Medical Center.

Check out his latest TV appearance on “Chelsea Lately,” below, and mark your calendars for 7:00 p.m. on November 5th…we’ll see you there!

Trace Adkins Heads Back On Tour

Trace Adkins performs for troops in the Persian Gulf during his last USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour. (USO Photo by Dave Gatley)

County music superstar, 2009 USO Gala performer, and recipient of the 2007 USO Merit Award and the Wounded Warrior Project’s 2010 Talkhouse Award…is there anything Trace Adkins can’t do?  Adkins recently announced his third USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour to the Middle East.  Since 2002, Trace he’s performed for over 7,800 troops in the region.

Adkins has long been a supporter of the troops, as he explained to TheBoot.com in 2008 before his last USO trip: “I’m really humbled by the opportunity to spend more time with our nation’s finest,” the singer says proudly. “This is such an honor for me to be able to visit with our military and tell them how much we truly appreciate all the sacrifices they make for our country and our freedom.”

On CNN’s Morning Express with Robin Meade, Adkins gave a shout-out to the troops from backstage at the grand re-opening of the Opry House in Nashville.  You can view that below, along with his appearance last week on the Jimmy Fallon show.  Fast forward to the 36 minute mark to see his performance!

CNN.com Video, posted with vodpod

Trace Adkins Visits Wounded Troops

Trace Adkins performs with the West Point Cadet Glee Club at the 2009 USO Gala. (USO Photo by Dennis Brack)

Country music star Trace Adkins is a huge supporter of the USO.  From performing live with the West Point Cadet Glee Club at the 2009 USO Gala in Washington, DC to visiting wounded troops as part of his work with USO of Metropolitan Washington’s (USO-Metro) celebrity handshake tours at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Adkins never hesitates to show he cares.

On Friday, January 29, Adkins sat down for an interview with WMZQ’s “The Boxer Show,” where he had this to say: “It’s awe-inspiring, it’s overwhelming at times,” said Trace Adkins when asked about his experience participating in celebrity handshake tours at area military hospitals. He added, “You are in the presence of heroes, and the courage and determination that those men and women show is humbling. It’s an honor to get to do that.”

Click here to listen to the interview with Trace Adkins on WMZQ!

Trace Adkins shows his support with Handshake Tours, sponsored by USO of Metropolitan Washington. (USO Photo by Crystal Benton)

These handshake tours boost morale and provide a celebrity tour of a different kind to Troops who are recovering from their injuries – the families and friends who care for them.  Last year alone, USO-Metro hosted over 130 entertainers on these tours at area military hospitals, including Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the National Naval Medical Center and Warrior Transition Units at Fort Meade, Fort Belvoir and the McGuire Richmond VAMC.

We are grateful for the tireless work of Trace Adkins…and we love his music!  To show your support, and to learn more about USO of Metropolitan Washington, please visit www.usometro.org.